About Student Bonfire
Continuing the Tradition
The Undying Flame
In 1947, the first definition of Bonfire was formalized. It was said that "bonfire symbolizes two things; a burning desire to beat the team from the University of Texas, and the undying flame of love that every loyal Aggie carries in his heart for the school." It bears mentioning that Bonfire existed for decades before a rivalry game with t.u. was instituted. And while we may have moved on from that game, Bonfire continues now as it began, "the undying flame of love that every loyal Aggie carries in his heart for the school."
Today, as always, Bonfire cultivates leaders and a generations-spanning kinship between students of any origin. Bonfire is about being a part of something bigger than yourself. Every log that goes on Bonfire is Cut, Swamped, Loaded, Unloaded, and Stacked by hand by students. This long, and hard process is the Bonfire-building Aggie's gift to Aggieland, and to his fellow Aggies. Without the participant asking anything in return, Bonfire rewards the Bonfire-building Aggie beyond measure.
Before participating, everyone must attend a Cut Class. Here the basics of Bonfire are covered. The current rules and standards are also reviewed. No one is exempt from Cut Class. While at Bonfire, everyone must wear a Pot (protective head-gear), steel-toe leather boots, and long pants in good repair.
Alcohol is strictly prohibited at any Bonfire venue, including Burn. Any participant found to be in any state of intoxication will be permanently banned from participating in or attending any future Bonfire activities.
After Bonfire 1999, significant changes were made to the construction of Bonfire. All logs touch the ground. The familiar wedding-cake design comes from cutting the logs of each tier shorter than the last. Centerpole is now unspliced, standing as a single pole buried to 25% of its total height. Additionally, four poles called "Windle Sticks" are installed around Centerpole to form a framework for Stack.
Without a Bonfire for three years, an entire student generation was at risk of passing through Aggieland without participating in Bonfire. In 2002, the students set to carrying on the Tradition they began nearly a century earlier. They once again assumed all of the responsibilities of building Bonfire, including all logistical and financial matters. In this first year returning off-campus, the "stack" was an unassuming brush pile, reminiscent of the first-ever Bonfire made of pallets, brush, and trash. But the message was sent, and the flame was rekindled in the hearts of Aggieland.
In 2003, a new design was implemented that resembled the traditional tiered "wedding cake" stack, except every log in the stack extended to grade. Each individual log was tied to at least three other logs in the Stack at the log's base and top end. At regular intervals, the entire Stack is wrapped (again at the base and top) with heavy steel cables called Supersets. The end result is a unified structure with many structural redundancies.
Today's Bonfire is 45' from grade to the top of the Outhouse. Since logs will never again be stood on top of other logs, this height has remained consistent year-to-year. Students can (and do) take great pride in the fact that in building the modern Bonfire, they are stacking entire trees in excess of 30' tall. This is certainly a feat.
While the student volunteers had covered much of the costs of Bonfire from 2002 to 2005, this began to change in 2006 with increased support from the community and Former Students. However, as Bonfire grows, so do its expenses, and significant assistance is still needed.
Since Student Bonfire is not affiliated with the University, the organization must raise the money each year to fund this event. Consumables include safety equipment, the Site leases, trucks, tractors, fuel, logging chain, cables, wires, ropes, and other rigging. Additionally, the Burn Night event requires many licenses and permits, along with contracted parking, safety, and law enforcement personnel.
To find out how you can help, please read more about donating to Bonfire. Your support not only helps build Bonfire, but also helps Bonfire grow our contribution to the Student Bonfire endowed scholarship at Texas A&M.